Michael* came to us at the beginning of December 2020, while he was sleeping on the streets of Manchester. He didn't speak English very well at all and was using the synthetic cannabinoid, spice, on a daily basis. He was anxious about his status, and his lack of an address meant that he didn't have contact with the immigration caseworker who was helping him.

He came to Barnabus three or more times a week and engaged with every service he could, including a GP and mental health service. Here’s how we helped Michael take things a step further, and secured him a home too.

From emergency shelter to permanent flatshare

Due to Michael’s lack of status, it was a struggle initially to get him any accommodation. We did, however, manage to secure 10 nights in emergency accommodation through cold weather support.

Our engagement worker Hannah then reached out to Refugee Action and Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit. Together they helped her to put in a Section 4 appeal, which offers people without recourse to public funds the right to housing. Meanwhile, through conversations with other services in Manchester, we found out that a room had become available at an organisation that offers accommodation for exactly such people.

Michael now has a flat to call his own, which he shares with one other person who also speaks Arabic. He’s stopped taking spice and begun to eat better, making him much closer to a healthy weight.

The importance of lending an ear

Sadly, when people are in a moment of crisis, they can turn to drugs and other self-destructive behaviour. Michael’s story shows how simply listening and helping an individual through that moment can help them not only move away from a tough point in their lives but also leave their addictions behind.

We are all excited to continue to support Michael in the future, and we are sure that he will be ready to live his life independently soon.

*Name has been changed to protect our friend’s identity